Monday, September 20, 2004

My roommate subtly hinted to me late last week that I should hurry up and read the new Jasper Fforde book, Something Rotten, so she could borrow it. I took pity on her and pulled it out to read Saturday evening. Man, I love this series. The characters are delightful, the plots are funny, and the conceit is genius. I picked up the first one (The Eyre Affair) shortly after it came out while browsing at Kepler's and it's one of the best impulse buys I've ever made. I love the thought of entering books and idea of books and their characters having downtime and backstories and the fluidity of language and story that Fforde plays with. The execution of those ideas has been inspired and even emotionally affecting at times. This latest entry isn't quite as good as the last one, but it's still pretty terrific. And, as with the others, the better you know your classic literature, the funnier everything is.


Tuesday, September 14, 2004

I'd heard a lot of hype about Lucky Girls by Nell Freudenberger - most of it about how good her short stories were and how she got a book deal based on one published story, so when I saw it downstairs I grabbed it. The stories in the book (there are only five of them) share some similarities: the central character is a young, white, American woman and there is a connection to India or the surrounding area. That's not to say that they are alike though. They are each distinct and the characters well-defined. She varies the narration too; one story is told by a mother, another by a daughter, one switches forth between an Indian tutor and his student. "Outside the Eastern Gate" reminded me of Hideous Kinky (which I loved) with its interaction between the children and their mother. The stories were full of moments of beauty, yet were told very plainly, each page containing new nuances to the storyline and characters. While not quite as affecting as Adam Haslett's collection or as dazzlingly clever and funny as DFW's, these were still very good and will go a long way toward making me more of a fan of short stories.


Friday, September 10, 2004

As soon as I finish writing about Through the Narrow Gate by Karen Armstrong, I'm going downstairs to pick up the sequel. I got this recommendation from Daisy, who I think got it from Jeff. The author entered a convent at age 17 to become a nun and eventually left. That's the bare bones of the story but there's so much there - the strict environment (pre-Vatican II), the emotional abuse, the physical suffering, and the moments of joy she had there. It was impossible for me to read this and not draw parallels between her experience and my own religious upbringing. Obviously without the whole sadistic convent experience though.


Tuesday, September 07, 2004

I liked Little Children by Tom Perrotta despite not really liking any of the main characters. Now that I think about it, I seem to recall having a similar reaction to Joe College. While I find Perrotta's books very funny and satirical, I don't have much sympathy for the characters or the situations in which they find themselves. I don't seem to have a lot to say about this one - I liked the writing and the plot was interesting. But, despite some initial sympathy for Sarah, I ultimately didn't like her decisions. I'm sure this comes from my feelings on marriage and infidelity and children and how different my views are from those of the characters.


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